Prayer For The Rough Patches

We all have had rough patches during our lives.  These are the times when our life situations can seem to be difficult, chaotic, and uncertain.  We question why things did not turn out as we hoped; and what the future holds.  I have rediscovered a prayer written by the Trappist monk, and spiritual writer, Thomas Merton.  He included this prayer in his 1958 book, “Thoughts in Solitude.”  I discovered it on a prayer card, issued by a society dedicated to promoting his writings.  I would pray it at times, then forget about it, find it, and forget about it, again.  It does seem to pop up in my sight or consciousness during those times when I need it.  I offer it below for any of you who might need it:

Merton 0218

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will, does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
― Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

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Christmas – 2017

Christmas Eve SBC 2017

 

Christmas time has come around once more for all Christians, for all Catholics. The Church has put away it’s purple colored vestments and liturgical decorations. The Advent wreath has been taken down. In their place, the chapel sanctuary, where I worship, is strewn with red and white poinsettias, a Christmas tree, with white lights. A manger scene with Mary, Joseph, and the Baby Jesus, has been set up in front of the altar.

 
The chapel quickly fills for our 4:00PM Vigil Mass, and soon it is standing room only. Our guitar choral group leads us in song, we join in singing the old Christmas favorites. We have a guest priest as our celebrant this night, and the sacred liturgy begins. We hear the words of the prophet Isaiah spoken; telling of ancient Israel’s future vindication, and rebirth. Then we hear the Good News from St. Matthew, proclaimed by our celebrant:

 

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Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit.
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Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.
20
Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord* appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.
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She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
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All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
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“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,”
which means “God is with us.”
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When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.
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He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus. “ (Matt. 1: 18-25)

 
After hearing how Christ Jesus, though he was Son of God, willingly came into this world as a child, to begin the work of salvation; we are soon witness to another miracle. Christ is made present to us in the form of bread and wine, transformed into his Body and Blood. It was my privilege and honor to help distribute Holy Communion to those who approach. I feel something in my heart, as I hold up each host for the communicant to see, and say with conviction: “The Body of Christ.” And then place the host in the hands of the person, or on their tongue.

 
There the final prayers, and the blessing of the priest; we then sing joyful Christmas songs; celebrating the sacred event that happened in Bethlehem; the sacred moment we just experienced, and leave with the hope of Jesus’ promised return, when a new heaven and a new earth will come to be.

All peace and joy be yours this Christmas day, and God’s blessings on you for the coming year.

Pax et Bonum!

 

Thanksgiving Day – 2017

Thanksgiving_grace_1942I am on Cape Cod this Thanksgiving Day, with my wife, her mother and some of her siblings, nephews and nieces.  After a wet drive from the South Shore the night before, this day has been sunny, clear, crisp and cool. In the morning we went to the local Catholic church, and attended a Thanksgiving Mass.  My wife, Peg’s father passed away in October, so after Mass, we visited his grave.

As I write this, various members of the family have bringing their donations for this Thanksgiving tableevening’s dinner.  Food is being prepared, table cloths spread out, and the table has been set.  With all this activity, I have begun to reflect on the meaning of Thanksgiving Day.  Some trace it roots to the English Reformation, during the time when the Puritans had strong influence over the Church of England.  Holy days were done away with; to be replaced by Days of Fasting during times of national tragedies, or stress, and Days of Thanksgiving for good harvests and national victories.  The Pilgrims brought these practices with them to New England.  Various colonies and then states would proclaim days of Thanksgiving.  Abraham Lincoln would issue a presidential proclamation, establishing Thanksgiving as a holiday throughout all the states.

Thanksgiving Day was meant to be a time of both feasting, and prayer.  But as with Christmas and Easter, Thanksgiving has fallen prey to commercial interests.  Stores, car dealerships, you name it, sponsor special “Thanksgiving sales,” using the images of Pilgrims, Indians, pumpkins and turkeys to promote their wares.  Groups of people have a different approach to the day.  The Massachusetts town of Plymouth has a community parade celebrating the day; Native Americans hold a Day of Mourning.

May it be time to try to bring back the spiritual aspect of Thanksgiving?  Whether you are a Christian or not; a believer or not; we all need to have time reflect on what good has happened in our lives this past year, if only to counter the negative experiences we may have had.  As a believer, this day makes me aware that all Creation is gift; that our lives are gift; gifts from a loving God.  Sometimes, circumstances may lead us to doubt that, but life is a gift, and God still cares for us, in wondrous and mysterious ways.  And I am grateful for that.

As I walk around and see the woods and fields in autumn; when I look up into the evening sky, studded with stars, I am moved to thank God for the awesome beauty I am seeing.  I close with a prayer from the writings of St. Francis of Assisi.  Not exactly a Thanksgiving prayer, but I think it is appropriate for the day:

Most High, all powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, the honor,
and all blessing.
To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no man is worthy to mention Your name.
Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and you give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon
and the stars, in heaven you formed them
clear and precious and beautiful.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene,
and every kind of weather through which
You give sustenance to Your creatures.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom you light the night and he is beautiful
and playful and robust and strong.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains us and governs us and who produces
varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.
Praised be You, my Lord,
through those who give pardon for Your love,
and bear infirmity and tribulation.
Blessed are those who endure in peace
for by You, Most High, they shall be crowned.
Praised be You, my Lord,
through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whom no living man can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those whom death will
find in Your most holy will,
for the second death shall do them no harm.
Praise and bless my Lord,
and give Him thanks
and serve Him with great humility.

(Canticle of the Sun)

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

The Tragedy of Las Vegas – “And Jesus Wept.”

And Jesus weptThe tragedy of what has occurred in Las Vegas, the enormity of it, has yet to be fully felt by many of us.  The raw power of the images we have seen on television, our computers, and tablets; has hit us all in the gut.  The politics, the partisan speeches, the proposals; they will, they must come, but later.  Right now, we need to mourn for those who have died, We need to help the wounded, and the survivors.  We need to stand with those who have lost loved ones.  We need to come together as a nation, as a people; in the face of such evil.

Psalm 57  (Confident Prayer for Deliverance)

Have mercy on me, God,
have mercy on me.
In you I seek refuge.
In the shadow of your wings, I seek refuge
till harm pass by.

I call to God Most High,
to God who provides for me.

May God send help from heaven to save me,
shame those who trample upon me.
May God send fidelity and mercy.

I must lie down in the midst of lions
hungry for human prey.

Their teeth are spears and arrows;
their tongue, a sharpened sword.

Be exalted over the heavens, God;
may your glory appear above all the earth.

Eternal rest grant onto them, O Lord! And let perpetual light shine upon them!  Through the mercy of God, may they all rest in peace.

Francis crys

9/11 – An Anniversary of Sorrow and Loss

Our Lady of Sorrows 911Today is the 16th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the United States that changed this country for years to come.  Never, in the history of the Republic, were so many civilian lives lost through such brutal acts.  There have been other attacks on this country since then, but this particular assault will remain seared in our memories for ages to come.

We pray for the souls of those family members, friends, fellow Americans who were lost.  We pray for those who still grieve for the loss of loved ones.  We grieve for our country, still bearing the scars of that day.  We pray:

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
Our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry,
Poor banished children of Eve;
To thee do we send up our sighs,
Mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious advocate,
Thine eyes of mercy toward us;
And after this our exile,
Show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving,
O sweet Virgin Mary.  Amen.

 

Weekend Coffee Share – 8/6/2017

Here is a cup of coffee, fresh from the Keurig.  This weekend my wife, Peg, and I are at her parent’s home on Cape Cod.  The trip down was a little wet; but it dried up when we crossed the Cape Cod Canal over the Bourne Bridge.  The weather today was cool and sunny.  

August is the month my wife’s siblings and their families gather for  a get together.  It is a time to re-establish contacts with each other.  

For me, it is also time for a bit of retreat; to catch up on my reading and to enjoy the peace and quiet of the Cape.

Over a cup of coffee, I would share that I am currently reading a book by Krista Tippett, host of the public radio program, “On Being,” entitled “Speaking of Faith;” which was the original name of the program.  In the book, she shares how she came to rediscover the importance of spirituality in human life, and in her life especially.  She shares some of the insights she has received through her interviews with people of all walks of life and faiths.  I hope to share insights I have received in future postings.  

Over a cup of coffee, I would share that I intend to read more books during the rest of this year. I have entered a reading challenge on my Goodreads site for 2017.  I have aimed low, intending to read 8 books between now and the end of the year.  Hopefully, I will have exceeded that goal when New Year’s Eve 2018 comes around.

Over a cup of coffee, I would share that I am still looking for a  new deacon assignment.  It feels different participating in the Mass as a member of the congregation, and not at the altar.  And actually, that is not a bad thing.  Hopefully, by the end of next month, there will be a change in the situation.
Well, the cup is empty and in the dishwasher rack.  Until the next time; blessings and all good.